“Kids Draw” at the Library

2014-07-08 10.22.30


One of the coolest and most unexpectedly popular programs I run at our public library is Kids Draw. Every Wednesday, from 3:30-4:30, I set up tables and chairs in the downstairs meeting room. Some paper, pencils, and crayons are laid out, along with a few cool New Books packed with fun illustrations, and I pump up some Chip Tunes music from Pandora. Kids and their folks show up, grab their gear and a seat, and doodle away.

That’s it. Instant art event.

As a librarian, this is a hit on a multitude of levels. It’s incredibly cheap, weekly cost consisting of just a few dozen sheets of computer paper and a some simple art supplies used repeatedly throughout the year. As far as planning and prep goes, there is practically none. I keep all of the gear in a basket, snag a handful of good picture books on my way over, and the whole thing takes barely ten minutes to set up, most of that just lining up chairs. And since the focus is on social drawing over artistic instruction, there is no need for a lesson plan, or for the facilitator to even consider themselves an artist.

On a sappier note, it’s wonderful to see the interactions between parents and children. While some of the older kids get dropped off, at our library anyone under 10 must be with an adult. This has resulted in several parents that might not usually think to draw spending a solid hour sketching and doodling. Kids are so much more tuned in to something when they see their parents participating, and you can just watch a bond forming over shared art. As a bonus, the children have a tendency to talk and ramble as they work, and I’ve heard many parents getting a little extra insight into their young one’s day.

Beyond all of that, the educational value, the social value, the parenting value, I must admit that the thing that keeps me so invested in the program is the outright fun of sitting and drawing with these kids each week. We have a core group of regulars who show up for every session (even linger after and help pack up!), and as we sketch away on our monsters and robots and trolls we discuss current movies, favorite books, and general thoughts on life. I get instant Art Direction on what colors look best for certain space ships, and many is the time I’ve been prompted out of my comfort zone by a request for specific cartoon characters or someone’s favorite dinosaur.

If you’re a librarian, I highly recommend trying this out as an easy addition to your regular programs. If you are a parent, perhaps ask your local library to try something like this, or just set aside an hour at home for Art Time. If you’re an artist, grab some pencils and paper and go find some wee cousins, nieces, and nephews to draw with.

It’s worth it for everyone.

Photo Smorgasbord

I’ve had these bits and pieces from assorted projects  bouncing around my hard drive, thought I would post a bunch of them together. Enjoy!

A set of owl plaques drawn as a gift. Ink and watercolor on stained pine.

I promised my sister a trio of drawings for Christmas, entirely her pick. What did she go with? A list of six animals, to be combined however I saw fit into three new creatures. Slothkey, Hippoplatypus, and Sea Giraffe. She knows my strengths! Ink and watercolor on paper.Mass Effect commissions. Had a lot of fun playing with some colors. Marker on Bristol.

Kitty Ballerina for a friend. Cute x10. Ink and watercolor on paper.

Pinocchio plaque commission. Ink on stained pine.

Wicket E. Warwick commission, to accompany a Boba Fett and Vader I made earlier. Ink and colored pencil on brown paper.

A Christmas present for my gaming group, The Nerdhouse. I caricatured us all as some of our favorite characters, doing single watercolor paintings to give to each of them. Then I scanned them all in and collected them for a digital print.

Light Up the Night!

Last night left such an indelible impression on my psyche, that when I set pencil to paper today all that would come out were still images from my manic memories. Flashes of face paint festooned rockers, costume clad musicians, and a giant foam squid diving face first into bowling pins. What could possibly be the nucleus of such insanity? Why, The Protomen, of course.

I was one of the fortunate many attending the Halloween festivities at Exit/In in Nashville. Accompanied by fellow Nerd Housers Chuck, Andy, and Josh, I hit the doors a little past 8. After a brief wait (during which “Time Warp” was played no less than three times) the stage lit up on the opening act, MC Frontalot.

Frontalot (or as he was known in costume, “Frontalot With a Mustache”) is a self-proclaimed Nerdcore Hip Hop performer, and he performs it quite well. With solid beats from his band, fast-paced and sharply-honed lyrics, and solid comic patter between songs, he did an amazing job of whipping a bunch of slightly chilled slack-jawed partiers into a frothing crowd of cheering fans.

Which left us primed and ready for the main event, The Protomen!

I’ve been fortunate enough to catch them live before, but time must have dulled my recollection of their grandeur, as I found myself woefully unprepared for how much they would rock me. They gave one of the most entertaining and creatively planned stage shows I’ve ever seen, with elaborate props, personalized glittering make up, and well conceived characters that they never fell out of, even whilst reapplying an errant mustache.

If I ever actually need to start an underground youth-based revolution, I will be sure to recruit them for rousing the rabble.

By the time The Protomen left the stage, it was late into the night, and we were feeling quite weary. With an hour drive back to Cookeville ahead of us, we very nearly decided to leave before the final act. To do so would have been sheer folly. For then, we would never have known the squealing madness that is Peelander-Z.

I feel like their performance was designed in a fashion absolutely impossible to describe to anyone who Was Not There. To hit the high points, there were vivid monochromatic costumes (festooned with glittering rhinestones and faux fur), sing-a-long songs with giant crowd-prompting signs, and even a number where the entire band is actually replaced at their instruments by members of the audience, who continue to play on. Add to that several elaborate musical skits with humongous foam creatures, and you essentially have Yo Gabba Gabba for adults. And I mean that in the best of all possible ways. By the time they had finished, we had completely forgotten any thought of sleep, as we piled into the truck with our minds buzzing and our ears ringing.

Not only were the bands great, but there were also quite a few enjoyable costumes.

The gentleman with the larger-than-life Beaker head was easily Best In Show. Sad Gallagher was one of my personal delights, whilst the Giant Cardboard Head Lego Men were solid crowd favorites. And though quite a bit more subtle, I give a tip of my hat to the Thirsty Sims Girl. Clever.

I can only hope this becomes an annual Halloween tradition.